While the relationship between fathers and sons, real or metaphorical, is still a dominant paradigm among classicists, this paper considers the rival contribution of Roman sons-in-law to the processes of collaboration and succession. It discusses the tensions, constraints, and obligations that soceri – generi relationships involved, then claims a significant role for sons-in-law in literary production. A new category is proposed here: “son-in-law literature,” with texts offered as recompense for a wife or her dowry, or as substitute funeral orations. Cicero and Tacitus are two authors for whom the relationship played a key role in shaping realities and fantasies of advancement. The idealized in-law bonds of De Amicitia, Brutus , and De Oratore are set against Cicero's intellectual aspirations and real-life dealings with a challenging son-in-law, while Tacitus' relationship to Agricola can be seen to affect both his historiographical discussions of father–son-in-law relationships and the lessons he drew from them about imperial succession.
Tree-chopping in the Aeneid has long been seen as a disturbingly violent symbol of the Trojans' colonization of Italy. The paper proposes a new reading of the poem which sees Aeneas as progressive extirpator not just of foreign rivals but also of his own Trojan relatives. Although the Romans had no family “trees” as such, their genealogical stemmata (“garlands”) had “branches” ( rami ) and “stock” ( stirps ), and their vocabulary of family relationships takes many of its metaphors from planting, adoption, and uprooting, while plant life is often described in human metaphors. Imperial historians use the growth and collapse of trees to mark the rise and fall of dynasties; natural historians like Columella and Pliny use metaphors of adoption, abortion, and adultery to characterize the perversions of agriculture and horticulture. It is thus no coincidence that Aeneas' encounters with Hector, Priam, Deiphobus, and others often take place against a background of real or metaphorical trees (tree similes, headless or mutilated human trunks, ancient trees and woods). These encourage us to see an element of dynastic encroachment in scenes that look pious and peaceable but confirm Aeneas' ascendancy and claim to Trojan succession. The Polydorus episode in particular can be read not just as a grotesque interlude but as a nightmare about endlessly reproducing heirs; one loose strand from Priam's house is allowed to remain, while Virgil deals imperfectly with the problem of Aeneas' own successors. The paper ends by re-examining Virgil's account of grafting in Georgics 2 and arguing that it is viewed positively, perhaps in order to cast Augustus' adoption of heirs as a miracle solution.
Horace's first book of Satires is his poetic debut, and has traditionally been read as a reliable account of the poet's coming of age and arrival in society. Recently, scholars have taken a more skeptical view of the authenticity of this account and have argued that Horace's self-portrait is generically determined, with the author invisible behind a composite of comic stereotypes. Nonetheless, this collection of casual and scattered fragments can, according to a less literal and more flexible definition of autobiography, be regarded as a coherent life history or self-presentation. This paper attempts to rehabilitate and expand the notion of the autobiographical in Satires I, and indeed to treat autobiography as the driving impulse of the book. Close readings of individual passages, some of them more overtly autobiographical than others, reveal striking patterns in the telling of this life-story, with special prominence given to the elements of self-preservation, socialization, and development of speech. Horace repeatedly replays various formative acts of emergence - from speechlessness, from his birthplace, from Philippi - even though these are referred to only indirectly. Critical events that are apparently underplayed in the book - Horace's official pardoning and his rebirth as a civil servant - are signaled instead by means of metaphor, displaced activity, or moral advice; they can also be found concealed beneath the trivial-seeming or circumstantial incidents Horace records from his daily life. As for the more obviously autobiographical highlights of the book - Horace's moral lessons at his father's knee or his first interview with Maecenas - these are not just isolated "moments," but can be shown to conflate an entire aspect of the poet's development, linguistic, moral, or social, in all its different stages. Other passages, apparently dealing with non-personal subjects - human behavior, the progress of civilization, Roman history, or the history of satire - can also be read as narratives of Horace's own civilizing process.